Kokanee comeback

State of Lake meeting Feb. 21

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Kokanee try to access the first fish trap at the Granite Creek near Lake Pend Oreille last December. Fish & Game said it was one of the largest returns of spawning kokanee in a dozen years. (Photo by KEITH KINNAIRD)

PONDERAY — The Lake Pend Oreille Fishery Recovery Task Force and the Idaho Department of Fish & Game are hosting a State of the Lake meeting on Thursday, Feb. 21.

It starts at 6 p.m. at the Ponderay Events Center off Eastgate Drive.

The meeting is open to anyone with an interest in the lake.

Following the presentations, there will be a question and answer session as well as time for informal discussion after the meeting.

Presentations will summarize the results of the 2012 predator removal efforts, status of kokanee and bull trout populations, and recap the recent rule changes.  In addition, biologists will present results of a recent genetic assessment of the rainbow trout population, comparing the fish from Pend Oreille to those in Kootenay Lake, British Columbia, where the population originally came from.  

Fish & Game officials will also discuss the status of the lake’s kokanee population and the opening of the fishery to a six-fish harvest limit. Kokanee stocks were so low that Fish & Game closed the fishery to harvest in 2000.

On Thursday, Feb. 28 in Priest River, Fish & Game will hold a meeting to share information and answer questions about future management of the fishery in Priest Lake.

That meeting starts at 7 p.m. at the Priest River Senior Center, located at 339 West Jackson Ave.

Priest Lake has recently been the subject of lively discussion within the angling community.  Lake trout, or mackinaw, have dominated the Priest Lake fishery since they overpopulated the lake in the 1980s, effectively collapsing the kokanee and bull trout populations.  Though the lake trout fishery is popular with many anglers, many others have advocated restoration of a kokanee, bull trout and cutthroat fishery through implementation of a large-scale lake trout suppression effort similar to that on Pend Oreille. 

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